Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Homemade Yogurt

There are certain foods that we just seem to associate with store-bought and, for my family at least, yogurt seems to be one of them. However, I love any chance to break through the status quo and challenge myself. Now, I can safely say with conviction that our yogurt will never again be store bought! This was too simple to make at home and considerably more cost-efficient. For the cost of a half-gallon of milk you get nearly half a gallon of homemade yogurt!

If it tells you anything, I made this yogurt for the first time Sunday evening. Monday evening we had our first bowl. It is now Wednesday morning and I have to make more again. We've gone through a half-gallon of yogurt in 3 days.
It's sweet without sweeteners and comes out to about the consistency of my favorite greek yogurts.



Homemade Yogurt
printable recipe

Ingredients:
8 cups whole milk
½ cup plain live active yogurt

Directions:
In a large pot bring the milk to a boil, then remove from heat. Let it cool just until it is cool enough to stick your pinky finger in the milk and hold for 10 seconds. (We did a temp reading and we've found the exact temperature each time is 122°)

Remove 2 cups of the milk and pour into a medium bowl. Whisk together with the active yogurt until smooth and blended. Pour this mixture back into the milk pot and whisk again until combined and smooth.

Pour the milk into an airtight container and place in a warm spot overnight (We set it on the floor near, but not on top of, a heating vent.

The next morning place the container(s) in the refrigerator and chill completely.

Adapted from No Impact Man and Super(Natural)Momma

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Cherry Pecan Oatmeal Cookie Bars

I love baking cookies, but recently I've starting trying to come up with slightly healthier options. Healthier in this case means saving a whole half cup of butter and adding fruit instead of chocolate. Hey, baby steps, right? :)

The inspiration for this recipe comes from one of my husband's family's that they've had for years and years. It's a phenomenal cookie recipe, but it uses shortening instead of butter and, like I mentioned, I'm trying to make baby steps towards healthier baking (you know what would be healthier? Not make the cookies in the first place. But that's just not an option!) so I concocted a chocolate chip cookie recipe on my own, which then morphed into these cookie bars.  They have a very chewy texture from the oats, but also have an almost cakey-brownie-like density. And because they're oats and fruit, I can justify eating them for breakfast, right?



Cherry Pecan Oatmeal Cookie Bars
printable recipe

Ingredients:
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
1¾ cup flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2½ cups rolled oats
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup dried cherries

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350ยบ.

Combine the flour, oats, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, then mix in vanilla.

Slowly add the flour/oat mixture into the mixing bowl and beat on low speed until just combined. Add in the pecans and dried cherries and beat until just blended.

Lightly coat a 13x9 glass pan with oil, then pour in the batter and spread evenly in the pan.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden on the edges.

Source: A Laura's Recipe Collection original

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

This recipe comes to you at the request of my 3-year-old daughter. A few Saturdays ago she woke up and the first thing she said is "Momma, will you make me breakfast? Something with bananas? And chocolate?" I wonder where she gets that from?  These muffins certainly delivered. They were soft and fluffy, perfect amounts of banana and not too sweet to eat for breakfast. Definitely in my top 5 favorites for muffins.



Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
printable recipe

Ingredients:
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 egg
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup mashed ripe bananas, about 3 bananas
¾ cup chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350°. Prepare 2 muffin pan cups with paper liners or grease lightly.

Mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer beat together the egg, bananas, vegetable oil, yogurt (or sour cream), and vanilla extract.

Pour the flour mixture into the banana mixture and blend on low speed until just combined. Gently beat in the chocolate chips.

Scoop the batter into prepared muffin cups.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes, then remove from the muffin pan.

Source: Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations

Friday, March 5, 2010

Chewy Chocolate Cookies

It's a given that at least once a week I will make a batch of cookies. And it is inevitable that if I ask Brian what kind of cookie he'd like he'll answer "Chocolate chip". He's nothing if not consistent. So finally one day when I asked him what kind he would like I also threw my new copy of Martha Stewart Cookies at him and said "NOT chocolate chip! Variety! Try it!  You'll like it!" Sure enough, he picked these delightful little cookies and now when I ask him what kind of cookies he wants he'll say "Chocolate chip. Or those chocolate ones." Success!



Chewy Chocolate Cookies
printable recipe

Ingredients:
2 cups + 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
¾ cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1¼ cups (2½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
sanding sugar (I use granulated sugar) for rolling

Directions:
Mix the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt  together in a bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, roughly 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs and vanilla until combined, then reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add in the flour mixture. Beat until just combined.

Form the dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour until firm.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Shape the dough into 1¼ inch balls and roll each ball in the sanding sugar. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the cookies are set. They will still look a bit gooey when removed from the oven. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes then remove from the cookie sheet and cool completely.

Source: Martha Stewart's Cookies, pg. 75

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

White Wine Mushroom Chicken

It was once said that 'necessity is the mother of invention' and this dish is the embodiment of that. A few nights ago I was home with a hungry child and a hungry husband (and who are we kidding, yours truely was ravenous too) and the dinner hour was rapidly approaching. I looked in the fridge and pulled out a few things we already had on hand. I knew I wanted to make risotto that night, but I was missing a key ingredient for the risotto I had planned on making. At the last minute I threw together this chicken dish and mushroom risotto from things I almost always have in my fridge and pantry.



White Wine Mushroom Chicken
printable recipe

Ingredients:
1 lb chicken breast, pounded to ¼ thick
¼ cup flour
salt and pepper
2-3 Tbl butter or olive oil
2 shallots, finely choppped
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ cup mushrooms, chopped
½ cup white wine
¼ cup half-and-half or heavy cream
½ cup chicken broth

Directions:
Pound the chicken thin and set aside on a plate.

Melt the butter, or heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Saute the shallots for 1-2 minutes, until soft. Add the mushrooms and garlic to the pan and saute until slightly golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl.

Add more butter or olive oil to the pan if needed, just enough to lightly coat the pan. Dredge the chicken through the flour, sprinkle with salt and pepper, then place in the pan. Cook over low heat for 3-5 minutes on each side or until cooked through. Remove from the pan.

Pour the wine into the pan to deglaze. Let simmer for 1 minute, then add the chicken broth. Add the mushrooms, garlic and shallots back into the pan and stir for another 1-2 minutes. Pour in the half and half and stir, then add the chicken back into the pan and mix all together.

Serve!

Source: A Laura's Recipe Collection Original